The south coast of Sri Lanka is the one you see featured in most of the staggeringly beautiful photography that pops up on your computer screen when you are googling or pinterest-ing as a means of procrastination at work.
The crystal, blue waters are teeming with wildlife and the stick fishermen brave the waves for their dinner. When in season (Nov-Feb) the south coast is a tourist mecca of snorkeling, scuba diving, whales, dolphins, never-ending beaches and warm sunshine. It can get crowded and you will likely have to book accommodation in advance as well as organise dinner reservations for larger groups the day before. We left Udawalawe behind and arrived in Mirissa via Matara after another long bus ride and then a 15 minute tuk tuk.
Mirissa beach is breathtaking regardless of the season as restaurants spill out onto the white sandy beaches serving up cocktails and scrumptious seafood BBQs. The beach itself has a rocky headland at one end which contains champagne pools which makes a great swimming spot, while the rest of the stretch consists of easy soft, sandy shorelines.
Mirissa has a fully functioning tourist strip which includes a ‘beach club’ with a pool and lilo beds. We lazed about most days, took long walks up the headland to see the views and ate so much delicious food. We stayed with a local family as a part of an airbnb for our first two nights, but it was a little far (and dark) to walk at night to the main area. So we moved to a very affordable room (1500 rupee per night with ensuite) just behind the beach club with much better access and a cool, laid-back garden to chill in.
During the off season, it is still sunny and warm (it’s always warm in Sri Lanka) but my lazy beach sessions were often interrupted by sudden downpours of rain for around 15 minutes. Everyone did what I was doing: hastily collecting all of my stuff and madly dashing for cover under nearby trees or into the cafes. After the 15 minutes of torrential rain ended, everyone sheepishly heads back out and sets up their towels again. I recommend taking at least a raincoat with you to the beach as I was caught out a few times and when I did have it, I could throw it over everything and keep it all dry.
Most of the beach front cafes turn into bars at night and they were happy to let me sit there for hours and use their wifi and lilos even when I only bought a bottle of water. My favourite restaurant was Zephyr. It is affiliated but not exactly the same as its Arugam Bay counterpart. Instead of burgers being their specialty, they served up delicious wraps for lunch and spicy prawn pasta for dinner.
Avoid the Coffee Shack’s coffee. It claims ‘Italian espresso’ but serves hot water which tastes like you licked a battery terminal. No amount of sugar and milk could fix the acidic taste. I watched (with glee) as others around me made the same face I did and then put their coffee down never to be touched again. On the positive side, their pineapple smoothies were sweet and delicious! Each night we ate at many of the beach front restaurants often hand picking our fish fresh from the esky out the front and then having it cooked to perfection or embracing the multi-dish Sri Lankan curries which are still one of my favourite!
See the Tangent Time blog for my whale watching recount.